Millions of people all over the world suffer from fibromyalgia. There is no actual cause of fibromyalgia, but experts tend to agree that there may be triggering events that precipitate its onset.

Events such as a serious accident or injury that may insult the musculature or nervous system, viral or bacterial infections, arthritic conditions, thyroid conditions or problems with chemical neurotransmitters (those that link your immune system to your nervous system) may lead the body to produce massive amounts of lactic acid, which is thought to be a waste product of muscle.

Fibromyalgia is often associated with chronic fatigue syndrome.

The fatigue has been described as “brain fatigue” in which patients feel totally drained of energy.

Patients will usually relay that they feel as though their arms and legs are constantly heavy and tired. Some even have difficulty concentrating and may forget why they are doing a particular task, e.g., brain fog.

The pain of fibromyalgia is described by patients as deep muscular aching, throbbing, shooting, and stabbing, which at times may cause intense burning into the arms or legs. Muscle groups that are used more often than others, tend to hurt more, especially in the morning hours.

Pain may or may not subside as the day progresses.

Most fibromyalgia patients have an associated sleep disorder called the alpha-EEG anomaly.

This condition was uncovered in a sleep lab with the aid of a machine that recorded the brain waves of patients during sleep.

Researchers found that the majority of fibromyalgia patients could fall asleep without much trouble, but their deep level (or stage 4) sleep was constantly interrupted by bursts of awake-like brain activity.

If you wake up feeling as though you’ve just been hit by a truck—what doctors refer to as un-refreshing sleep—it is reasonable for your physician to assume that you have a sleep disorder.

Many fibromyalgia patients have been found to have other sleep disorders in addition to the alpha-EEG, such as sleep apnea (as well as the newly discovered form of interrupted breathing called upper airway resistance syndrome, or UARS), bruxism (teeth grinding), periodic limb movement during sleep (jerking of arms and legs), and restless legs syndrome (difficulty sitting still in the evenings).

Constipation, diarrhea, frequent abdominal pain, abdominal gas, and nausea represent symptoms frequently found in roughly 40 to 70% of fibromyalgia patients. Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) also occurs with the same high frequency.

Recurrent migraine or tension-type headaches are seen in about 70% of fibromyalgia patients and can pose a major problem in coping for this patient group.

Some headaches are associated with temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) which has been common in about one-quarter of fibromyalgia sufferers.

These TMJ problems are usually related to the muscles and ligaments surrounding the jaw joint and not necessarily the joint itself.

Other common symptoms include painful periods, chest pain, morning stiffness, cognitive or memory impairment, numbness and tingling sensations, muscle twitching, irritable bladder, the feeling of swollen extremities, skin sensitivities, dry eyes and mouth, dizziness, and impaired coordination can occur.

Fibromyalgia patients are often sensitive to odors, loud noises, bright lights, and sometimes even the medications they are prescribed.

Aggravating factors may include a sudden change in weather, cold or drafty environments, infections, allergies, hormonal fluctuations (premenstrual and menopausal states), stress, depression, anxiety, and over-exertion.

In addition to medications, most fibromyalgia patients will need to use other treatment methods, such as trigger point injections with lidocaine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, acupuncture, acupressure, relaxation/biofeedback techniques, chiropractic manipulation, therapeutic massage, or a gentle exercise program.

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